For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. — Ephesians 6:12
Carl Jung said, “People don’t have ideas, ideas have people.” It is just a few words, but profound words. Put another way, when someone has a way of looking at the world(an ideology), every new idea they encounter must fit into the context of their worldview. It either has to be integrated, disregarded, or raged against. In some sense, an idea is the most powerful tool people have. Take, for example, the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels in the year 1848. Merely an idea it was, a theory about the societal dynamic and how classes of people interacted with one another. A framework by which to view the world. Marx mused that because of the inevitable tyranny that comes from the top-down, from the haves to the have-nots (the upper class suppressing the lower serf class) that it be necessary that the lower class overthrow the “ruling class” and subsequently take the power into its own hands and redistribute the wealth in a more “fair” way. Notice the framing (a manipulative trick) that the ideologues insist everyone agree on subtly before they present their strategy for how the world should be set right. They use “class language”. Class versus class. People group versus people group. Of course, this isn’t coherent if you start to separate the chaff from the wheat. People aren’t the same. A lot of people are oppressed in one way or another. Whether it be historical oppression, which is horrendous. Or, whether it be you and your individual circumstances, perhaps you were abused as a child. In both instances, you have obstacles to overcome.
People don’t have ideas, ideas have people. -Carl Jung
The communist experiment was played out starting with the Russian Revolution in 1917 when Lenin and his cronies overthrew the Czar of Russia and established their communist government, the Soviet Union. Those who dissented against the new ideology were rounded up systematically, shot, or sent away to Siberia to work camps where most starved or died of disease. The final body count was conservatively set at 20 million people. These were not soldiers on the battlefield, these were dissidents. Russian men, women, and children. If you were a successful farmer, landlord, or business owner, the plight of the poor was laid at your feet, and you paid with your life. Under communism, success and wealth are directly correlated with your wicked oppression of others. There is no room for the idea of making an honest buck. The ideology was exported to China, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, among others. In China, communist chairman Mao Zedong carried out genocidal purges of those who spoke out or didn’t fit his vision of the communist utopia. The body count estimates there are even higher than in the Soviet Union. In comparison, estimates of Nazi concentration camp murders range from 6–12 million people.
The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic. — Unknown,
Of course, this is true in some sense because as humans we cannot conceptualize 1,000,000 corpses. Our brains and our ability to comprehend and compress what we see, read and hear means we don’t give the ideas and causes behind this many deaths the proportionate thought and attention they should get. If we want to keep these horrors from happening again, we must understand that ideas are to be wielded with great responsibility. This is easier said than done though. For one thing, it takes a lot of time and effort to completely understand an ideology. We often don’t know why we do the things we do. It is much easier to go with the flow, to follow the herd, especially if we see others we respect have already gone down the path. We have a choice, either stay behind, alone, and feel social pressure or cast off responsibility for your actions and get lost in the collectivity of the group. If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself as a peasant on the outskirts of Moscow in the 1920’s, you would be faced with a choice, bend to the will of the communists who now controlled the culture and the state and save your earthly life and have to sell out friends and family and join in the conspiracy, or listen to your God-given conscience and lose your earthly life. Christ says to his disciples in the Gospel of Mathew:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. — Mathew 16:25
To save your life in Soviet Russia, Maoist China, and Nazi Germany, meant to compromise your conscience. We are faced with these decisions more often than we realize, even in our comfortable lives living in the United States in 2018. Like when we see something we don’t agree with, and we know if we speak up our opinion will be unpopular? Our reputation takes a hit. Maybe you get slandered and mistreated without good reason. But you stay intact because you didn’t compromise your convictions. Mathew 16:25 in the New Testament applies to more than just the martyrs. Think for example, when an addict finally after years of addiction, self-deceit, crime, and self-destruction, comes to know Jesus and undergoes a personality change. He loses his old life. That is scary, uncomfortable, and extremely difficult. But, the reward is, he finds his life. He finds meaning, fullness, and purpose.
Jesus in his authority, wisdom, meekness, and mercy was tempted by the devil with power. The devil said to him, “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus refused. It doesn't seem like Jesus “lost his life” at that moment, but looked at through the lens of 21st-century consumerism-capitalism, this is an interesting dilemma. We think of power, influence, and monetary gain as worthwhile desires and things to possess. A lot of good can be done with power and money, people can be helped. Money can be donated to charity. This is our life's work. Our goal. The question is, what are we willing to give up exactly to get it? Compromise our conscience? Break the rules? Forget to mention that minor detail that actually isn’t so minor? Bend the truth just a little bit so it sounds more enticing to someone? Deceiving others is wrong. Deceiving ourselves is easy. All Jesus had to do was bow to evil, and kingship over every country on the earth was his. Bowing is a momentary sign of respect and submission. It is easy and brief. A small price to pay for power. Jesus knew though, that even a little lie, a small, momentary yield to evil was enough to totally corrupt him, and in all his wisdom, he held onto what he knew was true in the face of great temptation.
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